Clemson slips by FSU, 68-66


Published: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

TALLAHASSEE — Cliff Hammonds grew up about a half hour away from the Florida State campus, a fan of the Seminole football and basketball teams.

But when it came time for college, Florida State wasn't sure Hammonds fit its needs in either sport. Clemson, however, wanted him for basketball.

It was Hammonds' left-handed layup banked high off the backboard over a pair of Florida State defenders with 3 seconds left lifted No. 23 Clemson to a 68-66 win over the Seminoles in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both schools on Wednesday night.

"I had struggled the whole game shooting-wise," said Hammonds, who was ust 4 for 12 from the floor. "I had to finish it."

Clemson (15-0) remains one of the country's last three unbeaten major college teams, joining No. 16 Oregon and top-ranked UCLA, who both play toThursday night.

Vernon Hamilton, who led Clemson with 19 points, dribbled the ball up and fired a pass to Hammonds for the winner.

"We couldn't have executed that play any better," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "Cliff layed it over two tremendous athletes for the bucket."

Florida State (12-3) had tied it with 6.5 seconds left on a tip-in by Ryan Reid.

A 6-3 junior from neighboring Cairo, Ga. Hammonds hit a 3-point shot with 2 minutes left that put the Tigers ahead 64-42, wiping out Florida State's only lead of the game since the opening basket.

"He was a very good (high school) player," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said afterward. "A very good football and basketball player."

"Oh, I'm so proud of him," said Delma Hammonds, the player's grandmother and one of approximately 50 Hammonds' fans at the game, who waited for over an hour for their favorite athlete to leave the Clemson locker room where he received two IV's for dehydration.

"It's huge for us, being 1-and-oh in the conference," Clemson's Hamilton said. "It's going to be games like this every night. You've got to grind these games out."

Clemson led by as many as a dozen, 41-29, late in the first half, but Florida State tied the game briefly, 56-56, on Al Thornton's basket with 5:45 left and led 62-61 on a Toney Douglas free throw.

Hamilton hit 8 of 11 shots from the floor, including 3 of 5 from behind the 3-point circle.

K.C. Rivers added 16 points and James Mays 14 for Clemson, which shot 47.6 percent and managed a 32-30 rebound advantage behind freshman Trevor Booker's game-high nine rebounds.

"They executed their game plan better than we executed ours," Florida State's Hamilton said afterward. "We gave them a lot of unnuecessary opportunities with our impatience."

Thornton' 19 points and half dozen rebounds led the Seminoles, who committed 21 turnovers.

Isaiah Swann scored 13 points and Jason Rich added 12 for Florida State, which shot 46 percent and enjoyed a big advantage at the free throw line, making 16 of 20 opportunities.

Clemson was just 2 of 5 from the free throw line.

NO. 2 NORTH CAROLINA 102,

PENNSYLVANIA 64

Tyler Hansbrough and Reyshawn Terry scored 19 points apiece, and No. 2 North Carolina routed visiting Pennsylvania 102-64 Wednesday night for its 10th straight victory.

Wayne Ellington scored 17 points and fellow freshman Brandan Wright added 12 for North Carolina (13-1), which fell behind by 10 early but used a 27-4 run late in the first half to take command against the Quakers (6-6).

The Ivy League's most productive offense wound up being no match for a North Carolina defense which hasn't allowed a team to score 70 points since No. 6 Ohio State had 89 on Nov. 29, a span of eight games.

NO. 17 NOTRE DAME 78, LOUISVILLE 62

Russell Carter scored 19 points and Luke Harangody added 15 to help host Notre Dame beat Louisville in the Big East opener for both teams.

Freshman point guard Tory Jackson added 14 points, five rebounds and four assists in his second career start for the Irish (13-1).

Terrence Williams led Louisville (10-5) with 18 points.

Notre Dame has won 12 straight games for the first time in nearly 33 years. The Irish shot 47 percent from the field and forced 15 turnovers to improve to 11-0 at the Joyce Center.

NO. 25 WEST VIRGINIA 67, VILLANOVA 56

Frank Young scored a career-high 25 points for West Virginia.

Young's eight 3-pointers also were a career high. Joe Alexander scored 16 points and Alex Ruoff added 11 for the Mountaineers (12-1, 2-0 Big East).

Young hit four 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes as West Virginia built an 18-8 lead. Villanova cut the deficit to 23-20 with 5 minutes remaining in the first half, but the Mountaineers answered with a 23-4 run.

KENTUCKY 77, HOUSTON 70

Kentucky had its worst shooting game of the season but held off visiting Houston 77-70 Wednesday night to survive a scare in its final tuneup before Southeastern Conference play.

The Wildcats (11-3) never trailed but couldn't pull away from the Cougars despite leading 10-0 early. They shot just 39 percent from the field — surpassing the season-worst 41 percent last month in a victory over Santa Clara.

A 3-point play by Oliver Lafayette with less than three minutes to go tied the game at 68, but Randolph Morris hit a turn-around jumper to give the Wildcats the lead for good.

Morris led the team with 20 points — 10 of them from the free-throw line. He added 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double in six games.

SOUTH CAROLINA 67, WESTERN CAROLINA 53

Bryce Sheldon scored 20 points and freshman Brandis Raley-Ross added a career-high 18 as South Carolina slipped past visiting Western Carolina 67-53 Wednesday night.

After the Catamounts (5-9) cut their deficit to two with 7:58 left, the Gamecocks (10-2) finished on a 16-4 run behind Raley-Ross, who scored seven of his 13 second half points during the run.

The Gamecocks won without point guard Tre Kelley, who sat out with a sprained left knee.

The senior had started 53 straight games and leads the team in scoring at 16.8 points.

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